Families, friends of fallen Border Patrol agents join nonprofit in calling for stronger border security
The family and friends of two Border Patrol agents who were killed as a result of border violence believe lawmakers need to step up when it comes to border security.
Marie Herrera Vega lost her son – former Border Patrol agent Javier Vega Jr. – in 2014 after he was shot by an undocumented Mexican immigrant on a fishing trip with his family in Willacy County.
Victor Avila, a former U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent, also had a story to tell after he and his former partner –Jaime Zapata - were stationed in Mexico City.
"In 2011, special agent Jaime Zapata and I were ambushed by the Zetas cartel,” Avila recalled. “Agent Zapata tragically lost his life in the line of duty and I survive being shot three times. By the grace of God I'm here before you today."
Vega and Avila attended a Monday event at Anzalduas Park hosted by The Remembrance Project, an anti-illegal immigration nonprofit organization based out in Houston.
"I didn't think I would still be here after 12 years,” The Remembrance Project National Director and Co-founder Maria Espinoza-Lyng said. “I have testified before Congress. I have testified before on the city level, county, and state level, but we are angry. And we are fed up."
Espinoza-Lyng, Vega and Avila said they want to see increased border security, further construction of the border wall, and more resources to asylum seekers - while they wait for their asylum trials in their home countries.
"We need to focus on the illegal activity that these cartels continue to do on a daily basis with human trafficking, child trafficking and the poison they continue to bring into our communities all over our country,” Avila said.
U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Chris Coons (D-Delaware) filed a bill aimed at protecting federal officers and employees serving overseas by holding individuals accountable and being able to prosecute them in the United States as a result of Avila and Zapata’s cases.
Correction: This story has been updated to show the Remembrance Project is an anti-illegal immigration nonprofit organization. A previous version incorrectly stated anti-immigration.